Top-Performing Lithium Battery Stocks of 2010

(Lithium battery story updated with stock price update on Toronto Stock Exchange-traded lithium battery stock Electrovaya.)
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The global push for fuel economy has prompted a growing gravitational pull towards electric vehicles, prompting the investment community to increasingly consider the makers of rechargeable lithium batteries for these vehicles as an investment opportunity.

For the moment, nickel-hydride batteries are more commonly found in electric vehicles, but in theory, lithium batteries will eventually become the power source of choice. According to leading auto parts supplier Johnson Controls ( JCI), a growing force in the lithium battery space, lithium batteries are 30% smaller, 50% lighter, and three to four times more energy dense than nickel-hydride batteries. Furthermore, according to the company, lithium lasts longer and is two to three times faster to recharge.

Pike Research forecasts that the market for lithium batteries for transportation will grow to nearly $8 billion by 2015 from $875.6 million in 2010. More importantly, as manufacturing efficiencies improve and access to lithium expands, the cost of lithium batteries will fall by half between 2010 and 2015 to less than $500 per kilowatt hour, according to Pike Research.

A number of U.S. stock exchange-traded companies in the lithium battery business have been working round the clock to ready themselves for the expected expansion of the electric car market. In Canada, lithium battery pure play Electrovaya has surged about 173.5% year to date on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company recently brought on former Chrysler president of global electric motorcars, Bruce Coventry, as vice president of operations, and has become the supplier of a Tier 1 automotive OEM (original equipment manufacturer).

Here, we take a look at a handful that has elicited strong enthusiasm from investors this year ...

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